£2m waterfront park dogged by problems opens at last

A £2 MILLION park on Edinburgh's waterfront has finally opened to the public – almost two years after it was completed.

• The new beauty spot on a former gasworks site was kept closed after the burn was found to be contaminated with sewage. Photograph: Ian Rutherford

Twenty acres of a former gasworks site have been transformed by a new loch, a nature reserve, 10,000 shrubs and plants and 1,000 trees.

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However, the new beauty spot has been virtually out of bounds as a result of wrangling between the developer, Scottish Water, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) over who is responsible for keeping a burn running through the park decontaminated.

The park, a centrepiece of the Forthquarter development, was largely finished in the spring of 2007, but an official unveiling by BBC naturalist Chris Packham the following April was cancelled at the 11th hour after untreated sewage was found to be flowing through the burn.

The opening of the park, which is roughly half the size of Leith Links, was postponed indefinitely while negotiations between the parties continued and water quality tests were carried out.

National Grid said yesterday it was forced to wait until now to open the park up while Scottish Water drew up a "robust" maintenance and repairs programme.

One source said: "It's been a real nightmare. A lot of work went into this park, as it was integral to the whole development and it should be a much-loved asset for the area by now.

"However, the developers were adamant that the water in the burn running through the development had to be of good enough quality."

Work on the park started in 1999 when National Grid began transforming the old Granton gasworks site into a major new district on the waterfront.

However, the majority of the park has remained closed while thousands of residents have moved in and the likes of Scottish Gas, Telford College and a Morrisons supermarket have opened their doors in the area.

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National Grid officials have insisted they warned Scottish Water as long ago as 2001 of potential problems with the park, which has opened up access from the new development to the shoreline for the first time.

It boasts a network of boardwalks and footbridges, as well as a wildlife viewing platform over the new small loch.

A spokeswoman for National Grid said: "Following lengthy negotiations with Scottish Water and Sepa, along with a two-year programme of monitoring and testing water quality at the burn by the developers, we are now satisfied that Scottish Water has a robust maintenance and repairs program in place."

Local councillor Elaine Morris said: "It's a shame it's taken so long, but it's all been about ensuring safe public access. It'll be great to see the park open at long last."